Q3. Does your school employ an adequate number of full time equivalent laboratory technicians?

Why this is important

  • Laboratory technicians are essential members of staff to ensure the practical provision offered to students is high quality and that equipment is well maintained.
  • As well as looking after equipment, science technicians can be a direct support for teachers, especially newly-arrived teachers who will be looking for guidance on what is available and how practical work is carried out in the school.

Benchmarks

The Association for Science Education, CLEAPSS (a membership organisation which offers support for practical science and technology) and the Royal Society have developed the idea of a ‘service factor’ as a guide for schools for the total number of technician hours necessary for secondary practical science.  They suggest calculating the minimum number of technician hours per week using a service factor of 0.65.

Laboratory technician hours per week = 0.65 x hours of science teaching per week.

The majority of technicians are employed in term-time only. However, employing technicians during the holidays gives them an opportunity to catch up on general maintenance that may not be easy to do during term time.

Ideas for improvement

  • School leaders and governors need to decide together how to allocate resources between the competing priorities of the school. You may wish to use the equation above to work out the service factor of the technician support in your school.
  • It may be useful to check whether any technicians at your school are employed out of term time.

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